Word Of the Week #600: Calm

February 4, 2016 by  

Calmunder control.

How much stress do you experience each day? How does it affect you? Are you able to stay calm and in control when a stressful situation arises at work?

This week features excerpts from “How Successful People Stay Calm,” written by Travis Bradberry. He writes, “The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

Some startling research summaries explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control. The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.

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Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.

  1. They Appreciate What They Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

I will share the other nine strategies in the next two WOW’s. This week’s focus is all about staying calm. Do you have any effective strategies for dealing with stress? How good are you at managing your emotions? How often do you have an attitude of gratitude?

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PS We left San Francisco January 25th on a “slow boat to Singapore.” I am posting our FUN-travel there too.

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